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A new villain emerges in Celtics playoffs 04.20.10 at 11:05 am ET
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Quentin Richardson is not the first opponent to stir up controversy in a playoff series against the Celtics during the current Big Three era. Prior to Richardson’s Game 1 altercation with Kevin Garnett, there had been a line of players before him who took on the role of “Public Enemy No. 1″ with Celtics fans. Take a look back at players fans loved to hate over the past three seasons.

Fans taunted Bibby with images of his own face.

Fans taunted Bibby with images of his own face.

Mike Bibby, Atlanta Hawks

Bibby dished the ultimate insult to Boston sports fans when he called them “bandwagon” in the first round of the 2008 playoffs. The Celtics crowd responded by booing him on every possession, chanting “Rondo’s better” (as encouraged by RedsArmy.com), and flashing masks of Bibby’s face during the series. Two years later, Bibby still is jeered every time he plays at the Garden. “I’m not even worried about that,” he told WEEI.com this season. “I don’t worry about that.”

Zaza Pachulia, Atlanta Hawks

Tempers flared under the basket after Pachulia and Garnett fought for a rebound during Game 4 of the first round of the 2008 playoffs. Once the big men got involved in an altercation, their teammates got involved as well and the question of suspensions was raised. But in the end, Garnett, Sam Cassell and Atlanta’s Joe Johnson were assessed technical fouls. In the deciding Game 7, Garnett fouled Pachulia while setting a hard screen and knocked the Hawks center to the ground.

Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

When Noah recently ranted about Garnett’s Game 1 altercation with Richardson, that wasn’t the first time he spoke out against his former childhood favorite. Prior to Game 7 of the first round of the 2009 playoffs, Noah didn’t hold back when discussing the then-injured Garnett’s presence on the sidelines. “I don’t care about him at all. I don’t care about him at all,” he told WEEI.com. “He used to be my favorite player. Not my favorite player any more.” Noah also added, “He’s a great player. Now that I hear stories, I see how he is, not a big fan.” Noah received a standing ovation when he fouled out of Game 7.

Rafer Alston, Orlando Magic

Alston temporarily interrupted Eddie House’s 31-point performance in Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Magic. After House drained a 3-pointer in the third, Alston slapped him in the back of the head. At the time, Alston claimed he was reacting to being elbowed by House. But there were no signs of hard feelings from Alston a season later when he told WEEI.com that he actually wanted to play for the C’s after being bought out by the Nets.


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Alston wanted to play for Celtics 02.05.10 at 12:44 am ET
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Rafer Alston had interest in joining the Celtics before he ended up in Miami. (AP)

Rafer Alston had interest in joining the Celtics before he ended up in Miami. (AP)

Earlier this season, there was speculation that the Celtics could make a move to acquire Rafer Alston after he was bought out by the Nets. The theory was that he could be a veteran backup to Rajon Rondo, the same role the Celtics had filled with Sam Cassell and Stephon Marbury the previous two seasons.

Turns out, it was actually the other way around. Rather than the Celtics going after Alston, Alston told his camp after the buyout that he would like to play in Boston. He is “pretty sure” the Celtics knew of his interest, but he never had a conversation with the organization.

“I think it was my interest,” he told WEEI.com. “But I don’t think Doc [Rivers] would have opposed it knowing that you can grab a guy that can give you minutes at backup point for this team, and who’s a willing passer and just a natural point guard. Then understand, I played for [assistant coach Tom] Thibodeau before in Houston. So I’d always had them on my mind before I came here.”

The 33-year-old didn’t lose any time holding out for the C’s, though. The Heat scooped him up almost immediately after he cleared waivers in early January. Alston could not turn down the opportunity to start for a playoff contender, nor could he stress enough how happy he is on his new team: “I got blown away by coming here with the immediate option to play instead of waiting it out.”

There is an element of surprise in Alston’s interest in the Celtics, though. He has been involved in some heated moments at TD Garden. Last season he slapped Eddie House in the head during the Eastern Conference semifinals as a member of the Magic. Just Wednesday night, he was issued a technical foul in the Celtics-Heat game.

But Alston says that has nothing to do with ill will. It’s about the competition.

“I enjoy watching them on League Pass,” he admitted. “Playing against them, I know it’s going to be a competitive game. We always chat at each other, but deep down I always care about each of the players in this league. So even if I did come, I hope they wouldn’t have taken the chatter back and forth that we all do against each other personally. Again, I have a great respect for the level of competition that they bring.”

Alston also has a good understanding of the Celtics. He has faced them enough times over his career to see where he could have fit in. While he believes Rondo is more than qualified to run the floor himself — “He’s an All-Star,” Alston said. “He’s having a wonderful career.” — Alston thinks having a true point guard on the bench could have had its benefits, too.

“Not back up but just complement, maybe get him [Rondo] some much-needed rest,” he explained. “Sometimes there are nights that he’s out there giving 40 minutes, and get him some rest. And also, you’d help the second-unit guys. You can keep some guys in their natural positions. You can keep [Eddie] House in his natural position; you can keep [Marquis] Daniels in his natural position, guys that are flirting between playing shooting guard.

“That’s one thing that I learned in this game. If you can keep everyone at their natural and most comfortable position, them succeeding is a better percentage.”

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Former Magic Notice Changes in Celtics 10.11.09 at 5:01 pm ET
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The last time Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, and Courtney Lee played against the Celtics, they sent the C’s packing for the summer. The trio were members of the Magic team that eliminated the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. This year they are in a different uniform and noticed the Cs have a different look as well.

Alston, Battie and Lee were traded from the Magic to the Nets over the summer as part of the Vince Carter deal. On Sunday they got their first take at the Celtics with their new team during preseason action at the TD Garden (recap here).

“They got a brand new season,” Battie said. “I mean, you look and [Kevin Garnett] is back and Rasheed [Wallace] is part of it. They got a great steal in getting Marquis Daniels, and you have those three additions coming back in the team. So, I think they’re the team to beat, definitely.”

Last season a hobbled Celtics squad was outscored, outrebounded and burned from the 3-point line by the Magic. Without Garnett on the court and veterans Ray Allen and Paul Pierce overworked, the Celtics bench could not save the season. Now the additions of Wallace and Daniels give the team much-needed depth.

“They get their big guy back and then they add Rasheed Wallace in there now,” Alston said. “I think when you’re trying to take away a lot of their main guys, they have a lot of guys that can step up and stretch the defense or post up on the low block. They have a different dynamic to their team, especially from a defensive aspect for other teams.”

Both Alston and Lee agree the series would have been completely different if the Celtics had so many weapons last season.

“They would’ve been a better team,” Lee said. “They definitely would’ve been harder for a matchup because you can play Marquis at the 1 and you sub in Rasheed, so they keep a shooting big in at all times, so they definitely would have been better.”

Said Alston: “I don’t think we would have been able to roam a lot off of a lot of their guys — [Rajon] Rondo, [Kendrick] Perkins, Big Baby [Glen Davis]. Those guys who really bring more scoring to the offense, especially from the bench standpoint.”

The combination of a healthy Garnett and a revamped second unit has Alston noticing a difference in the 2009-10 Celtics. Although he isn’t as willing as Battie to name them the best in the Eastern Conference, he can’t deny the changes on the court.

“Whenever they have all their guys, they have a swagger,” he said. “When someone goes down they don’t have swagger no more. That’s just how they are.”

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Alston suspended for Game 3 05.07.09 at 7:08 pm ET
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Orlando guard Rafer Alston has been suspended for Friday night’s game against the Celtics for an open-hand slap to the head of Eddie House following a House three-pointer late in the third quarter of Wednesday’s 112-94 Boston win in Game 2.

Alston said afterward that his slap was in retaliation for an elbow that House threw to his stomach after hitting the three-pointer. House was not suspended. Alston’s suspension was one of two handed out by the NBA on Thursday at Lakers guard Derek Fisher was suspended for Game 3 against the Rockets for his hit on Houston Luis Scola.

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Doc: Hold off on suspending Alston at 2:45 pm ET
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WALTHAM – If you think that Celtics coach Doc Rivers thinks Orlando’s Rafer Alston should be suspended for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semis Friday night, think again.

While he believes Alston should be disciplined for the open-hand head slap that he gave Eddie House after his third three-pointer of the night, he doesn’t feel that Orlando should be put at a competitive disadvantage for Friday night’s game at Amway Arena.

“You can’t go around slapping people, otherwise all the players will no longer punch they’ll just start slapping,” Rivers began. “And if they say you can get away with it, they’ll just say, ‘I didn’t punch him, I just slapped him.’ I don’t believe in suspensions personally, I really don’t. I know that sounds nuts. I wish everyone got fined and suspended in the regular season. I really don’t like guys getting suspended during the playoffs.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics-Magic Game Blog: Second Quarter 03.08.09 at 12:39 pm ET
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At the start of the second quarter … Magic 22, Celtics 15

- The Magic have scored 16 of their first 22 points in the paint. They’ve done more damage in the lane than the Celtics have done on the floor, and Howard has only played six minutes.

- This could be a big game for Gabe Pruitt. With only Marbury ahead of him at the PG, Pruitt has his first shot in a while to prove himself.  He has not played since February 25 against the Los Angeles Clippers. That night he was arrested for suspicion of DUI and served a team-imposed two-game suspension.

- Both teams are going heavy on the bigs. The Celtics have Kendrick Perkins and Mikki Moore going up against Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat.

- The Celtics have scored just two points in four minutes. And the faint boos have already begun.

- There have been 18 fouls called in the first 18 minutes of the game.

- Howard’s on the bench with three personal fouls. Now is the time for the Celtics to do some damage at the basket. The Cs also have an advantage with J.J. Redick guarding Ray Allen. Redick is not known for his defense.

- The Magic’s deal for Rafer Alston did not get much buzz at the trade deadline but this acquisition is a difference maker in this game. Alston brings quickness to the Magic that the Celtics are having trouble stopping without Rajon Rondo.

- Pierce’s dunk past Pietrus and Battie has the crowd on their feet. The harsh reality is, the Celtics are still down by nearly 20.

- At the half … Magic 51, Celtics 33

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Lil Wayne: KG is Best Trash Talker 11.19.08 at 7:29 am ET
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After hitting the charts, rap megastar Lil Wayne is now hitting the internet in his own ESPN the Magazine blog. Turns out he has a little bit of Spike Lee in him and has spent plenty of time talking trash from his courtside seats, including getting into the head of Houston Rocket Rafer Alston. As much as he likes talking trash, he claims no one does it better than Kevin Garnett:

“Back when I had those courtside seats I would hear everything those guys ever said, and KG was by far the best trash talker. That dude was creative. Even though he was on a terrible team in Minnesota all those years, he came in and was talking every night, intimidating people. He could get away with it because even though his team would usually lose, everyone knew KG’s game was at a different level. Most people would back down because it was KG. But then once in a while you’d have a guy who’d go back at him. I remember one game he got into it with Kareem Rush and he didn’t back down.”

Those also mentioned in Lil Wayne’s blog include:

Lil Wayne has plenty of courtside experiences

Lil Wayne has plenty of courtside experiences

LeBron James: “When you watch the Cavaliers games please be sure not to get up during the commercials ’cause you will see me on the Nike LeBron commercial. Yes. It’s kind of funny because he does that little thing where he throws the dust up and it gets on me and my new shoes so I’m upset about it.”

T-Mac: “Tracy McGrady? Come on. This is the same guy who said he wasn’t coming to New Orleans if the All-Star game was there. That guy? Come on. So then when the All-Star game came around who all of a sudden gets an injury? Tracy McGrady. Yeah.”

Dwyane Wade: “We live on the beach, but the funny thing is some guys in his entourage have a place in another building and my entourage lives directly across from them. So my entourage and his entourage are always out playing basketball together. D-Wade’s a cool guy, but I’ve never really been invited to his games. I guess I need tickets.”

… and even Manny Ramirez: “There are only a few teams that can afford to pay the man, and I would be heartbroken if he ends up in pinstripes. Manny as a Yankee would upset a whole lot of people, so I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

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